Scale no weighing

Whole30 and Getting Wholly Healthy

Scale no weighing

On the Whole9 people’s list of guidelines for the Whole30 diet (which I started on February 22, 2012), there is a bit of a strange stipulation against weighing and measuring yourself:

One last and final rule. You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.

This, of course, flies in the face of everything that we know to be normal about diets and weight loss programs, right? We’re all familiar with that Before and After series of torso shots of people standing in their bathroom in underwear. We hear of people stepping on the scale to monitor their progress.

It’s natural. We are curious: we want to know!

One of the things I really like about the Whole9 mindset is that health is not only about weight loss. Instead, it’s all about balance.

Balance between quality and quantity, between getting healthy and staying healthy.

I forgot to take the requisite torso shot on the first day of my diet, and again at the one-week mark. I regret that, and I regret that I didn’t realize this final rule until I went back after I started my second week to make sure I was doing things right.

But I’m excited. I am so proud that I made the decision to do something that is so against the grain in order to not lose control of my body and my health to comfort foods and convenience. I’m thrilled at how energetic I feel and that I have been motivated to take up running. For years, I have felt a distinct lack of discipline in my life, and I feel like I finally am gathering the skills to be more disciplined.

I’m actually considering making this endeavour a Whole45 or Whole60, in an attempt to completely break my dependence on sweets and any remaining emotional connection with food. It sounds a bit hokey for those of us that looooooove to eat, but I don’t want to be ruled by hunger pangs or enslaved to potato chips.

I want to be clear: this is not about shedding pounds. Yes, I would like to avoid having to buy another wardrobe, which means losing some girth in the hip-thigh-tummy region, and I’m afraid of “letting myself go”, which could so very easily happen. But I want to make the decision to be healthy, not just skinnier. Healthy.

Please comment with your perspective on our tendency to have an emotional connection with food…

24 thoughts on “Whole30 and Getting Wholly Healthy

  1. Sweet, I did a whole 60 mainly because I didn’t totally feel like my habits were transformed yet. But I’m telling you they are now! I used to make food decisions based on cravings and convenience, now I make them based on content. Am I getting enough protein, fiber, fat, antioxidants, etc. Actually, I don’t think I have “cravings” anymore to be honest. I’m so on top of it with shopping and cooking, that I always have delicious food options. This program has changed me in the best possible way, weight loss is just a result of healthy living.
    PS I weighed myself yesterday (the end of my 60 days) and I’ve lost 28lbs!

    • Wow, Erika, I am excited to get there. I think I may have to do another 30 days.

      I don’t think I’ve lost weight yet (not that it’s about that), and my cravings and habits are not yet solidified… but I have a few weeks to go.

      Thanks for your inspiration!

      • I have just completed my first Whole30 and I know after just 4 days I need to keep going with it. The first day or two was fine, I was still eating what I should and tracking it (my personal accountability factor) but now? I can’t remember what to eat and I don’t know when I’m hungry and my brain has returned to mush! I know I lost 8 lbs on it, which was huge for me, but you are both right… it’s not done for me yet because while I started to see the lessons I WILL learn from this, I haven’t fully internalized them yet. I can tell you what they are but they are like the start of the essay: This is what I’m going to tell you. I need to do another Whole30 or maybe even a Whole60 to break the hold 40 years of familial food dysfunction has on my.

        Not to mention the autoimmune damage I need to repair! That’s not going to be undone in 30 days! Tawanda, ladies!

      • I think those second 30 (okay, 24) days that I did really made a difference for my body and my health. I continued to lose weight even after finishing my second month, and I am in much better shape.

        However, I had some major transitions in my life around the time I finished my second Whole30, and fell off the wagon with running and strict eating. It’s hard to commit to a lifetime of high-quality foods when you are a starving student with a very low income and share your life and food with a person that’s not really interested in eating high volumes of vegetables… :s

        Good luck with your process and I’d love to hear how you do!

  2. I started my first Whole 30 on February 19 and I have about 10 days to go. I have not cheated once with the exception of having to check the scale. I was good for about the first two weeks, then I began to notice that my pants were becoming too big. I was thrilled, but needed to know what the scale thought about it…yes, I had lost, 7 pounds, but that first step onto the scale was my undoing. Since then I have been on the scale every morning and every evening…I need to know what it says! Your post and the post on Whole 9 have inspired me to just stay off until I finish my NEXT Whole 30. I may need to buy some new clothes by then, but I won’t go out an get them just because the scale tells me to. Thanks for your help and I wish you all the best.

    Lelia Marshall

    • Thank you so much for your honesty, Lelia!

      I started wondering today if I was losing weight (today was day 17), because my jeans seemed to fit better… but I am determined to stick to my resolve not to weigh myself.

      It helps that I don’t actually own a scale. 🙂

      Good luck with this Whole30 AND the next! You’re helping ME to crystallize my decision to do another Whole30 after this one. Thanks!

  3. Sarah, thank you for the reminder about balance. That is definitely one of my weakest areas. I’m on day 8 of my Whole30, and no longer hungry or feeling sugar withdraws, but I am hitting cravings, even for foods I don’t really like. Your comments (and Erika’s) helped me to remember (admit) that I’ve been ignoring the relationship-with-food changes that this endeavor is also about.
    Ok, keeping strong.

    • You’re very welcome, Becca. My weakness is sweets. I have not allowed myself any sweetener or chocolate, but I have made a couple other concessions, like blending cocoa and nuts with dates to make “Fudge Babies” (essentially brownies), and an “ice cream” of frozen coconut milk, banana, cocoa, and almond butter. Neither are really the desserts that I remember, but they help curb those cravings that I get for sweets.

      All that to say – the battle continues for me, too, but it’s worth it: I’m on day 20 and I feel great! So keep on keeping on. 🙂

  4. i am so encouraged by the outpouring of sentiment from other whole30’ers when it comes to their former unhealthy relationships with food, their body images, and the dreadful scale/judge…i am in the middle of my first whole30 and found you via whole9’s article on breaking up with your scale…i cant even begin to describe the freedom i feel, and the trepidation of returning to the ‘real’ world of food and hoping that my past discretion don’t crop back up…i plan to take a weekend off and start another whole30, or at the very least a whole15…and try to work some levity into it as i just dont know how much longer my dear husband will stick with it! i do know that without my usual vices…and all of them being gone at the same time…i feel WAY more in control of my health…and i just dont want to go back.

  5. Becky – I know what you mean – I’m not doing whole30 but I’m following paleo and High Intensity Interval Training exercise programme with “Guaranteed Fitness” in Macclesfield, England. I’ve been eating paleo for 28 days and I know I definitely don’t want to go back to eating amongst other things BREAD which will only make me BLOATED; REMORSEFUL; ENERGY- SAPPED; ABOMINABLE (I hate myself!!) and DEPRESSED. I just feel so much better in myself. Good luck to everyone….

  6. Your post is the exact reason why I am doing the Whole30 challenge. In the past year and a half I lost 25 pounds and I am very proud, however I have come to the realization that my happiness on any given day relies upon whether or not my “number” is within a certain range. If I am within that range, I will endulge a bit throughout the day and if I am not I feel crappy and begin restricting. I am embarking on this journey to center myself and learn ways to get in tune with how my body really feels rather than how my “number” convinces my brain that my body should feel. I know this will be a challenge, but I am excited to begin. My boyfriend has been asking me to “breakup” with my scale for quite some time now, so he will be happy to know I am going to do it!

  7. Hi Sarah,

    I haven’t started my whole30 yet. I plan on starting Monday the 4th of November (I wanted to start as close as possible to the beginning of the month, on a month so I have the weekend to meal plan). I’m very nervous. I live in rural Nome, Alaska where food has to be shipped or flown in, now flown because the Bering Sea is freezing for the winter. Everything is extroidinarily more expensive, it’s painful. Fresh produce is very hard to come by, and when you do obtain it its so pricey. I’m worried I won’t be able to afford eating this way (up here) for an entire 30 days, and I guess I’m also worried about my willpower. I work two jobs and I don’t always have time to spend in the kitchen. I was wondering if you had any advice or tips for my first whole30. I’d also be lying if I wasn’t very motivated to lose weight, I am. I’m not happy with my body, but I also feel that I need a lifestyle change now so that I can continue to live a healthy life in the future.


    • Hi Izabella,

      Thanks for your message! It sounds as if you are dedicated to making the Whole30 work for you, despite the challenges you face. I can’t even imagine the extra difficulties when fresh produce has to be flown in to you!

      I will give you what little I can, but the person that inspired me to do a Whole30 is actually a friend who lives in Alaska! She may have some insight that I can’t give you. Do you mind if I give her your email address?

      First of all, have a plan. Find some recipes that use ingredients you like and can get fairly readily. Take time when you get it and prepare as much ahead of time as possible. I’d recommend getting Melissa Joulwan’s book Well Fed: it gives you lots of basic recipes for seasoning meats and preparing vegetables, as well as planning a “cook-up” where you spend some time ahead cooking for the week.

      Find some resources you can count on. Here are some valuable resources: PaleOMG, The Clothes Make the Girl (Melissa Joulwan)’s recipes, NomNom Paleo, Mark’s Daily Apple, The Foodee Project: Whole30″. It may go without saying, but Paleo recipes aren’t necessarily Whole30, so keep that in mind.

      Allow yourself to “bend the rules” a bit to what you can handle. By that I don’t mean you should eat grains or beans or anything, rather I mean don’t get hung up on getting the highest quality of meat and eggs possible, etc. Simply do what you can, in the spirit of the thing.

      Breakfast is key. Make it ahead as much as possible so that you aren’t tempted to eat something outside of the diet or go without eating.

      Learn to make some basic sauces and dressings.

      Use grapeseed oil for cooking with – cheaper than coconut oil and other recommended oils, and still quite clean. Lard is also a decent fat choice and cheaper than butter and coconut oil.

      Consider setting up an indoor greenhouse-type contraption to grow your own fresh veggies and herbs where possible.

      When you can’t get fresh produce, consider frozen or canned. Read labels: more and more canned options avoid the no-no preservatives and sugars that are out during the Whole30.

      Bottom line: if you’re determined, you’ll find a way!

      About the desire to lose weight, I can’t deny that it’s a bonus. Just don’t let it be your driving force. It will be a by-product of your commitment to getting healthy.

      Hang in there and do your best!


      • Sarah,

        yes you may give her my email address, thanks!

        I’m going to be starting this weekend and plan on doing a lot of meal prep for the week with hard boiled eggs, tuna, chicken salad, maybe egg salad, prepping veggies for snacks/to throw in my breakfast and then make a big batch of whole30 approved chili that will hopefully last for dinner throughout the week. Thanks so much for your helpful advice, I’m very grateful 🙂


  8. I am on day2 of the Whole 30. I saw it on GMA and thought it sounded interesting. Maybe a little easier than other programs. The scale is a huge deal in our house, and it calls my name everyday. But I have not given in. (baby steps). Anyway I was able to do some prep work on Monday and I cant believe how quickly its being used. I have not really been successful in the past with weight loss so I am looking at this with new eyes. Getting healthy and understanding my health and body better. All of thee comments are very inspirational. Makes me feel I can really make some smart changes. So happy to have found this blog. Thanks

    • Hang in there, Holly. The next few weeks won’t be easy, but you’ll make it through and feel so much better and it will all be worth it! 🙂

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